If more border security is in order, why not use good old American firepower to secure it? Instead of occasionally sending the National Guard to the border, why not just let them take their annual training near the border?
Every National Guard unit has an annual training exercise that lasts from 14 to 21 days. There are 500,000 soldiers serving in the National Guard. If we have 14-day deployments, we’d have 19,230 soldiers per deployment and 26 deployments that cover the entire year if we wish.
20,000 soldiers would perform their annual training exercise while training for desert warfare, and protecting us from illegal immigrants and dope smugglers.
What I’m suggesting is simply that the National Guard units coordinate their annual training exercises and hold them in advantageous points along our Southern border. During their exercises, they would focus on sealing the border.
There would be some additional costs. It would probably be best to pre-position equipment for their use – I don’t want to even think about driving a deuce-and-a-half from Maine to California – and there would be increased travel costs. Training for the border exercise would be performed during the Guard drills. But compare that to the cost of 20,000 immigration agents, their training and their equipment...
The training would be valuable to the National Guard. Much of the Southern border offers climates and environments similar to current and potential future wars. They would be developing skills in catching skilled adversaries with an intimate knowledge of the terrain, much as they will in war. The Air National Guard missions would focus on locating adversaries and directing their ground units to them. Again, isn’t this a skill that comes in handy in a war? In addition, any advances in locating or capturing elusive adversaries would be useful in current and future wars.
The training would be beneficial to border security. For the cost of transportation, we get 20,000 soldiers to protect our border with all of their skills (the equipment would be needed anyway, and the Guard will exercise anyway, so those costs are already in the equation). Their location and timing could easily be controlled, allowing great flexibility in their use.
The effect on illegal immigration, crime and drug smuggling could be dramatic. Ask any smuggler - do you want to mess with a Border Patrol agent or a F-16? Get spotted by a Predator? Sorry. Uzi against a Sherman tank? No thanks.
In summary, we can add 20,000 soldiers to the border by focusing the annual National Guard training exercises on border security. It would be more cost effective than adding 20,000 immigration agents, and the National Guard units can easily be moved to the point of greatest need. The skills gained by the units on the border will be very useful in war, adding to the benefits of the exercise. The environment along the border is also similar to that of current wars. Of course, the Governors in all of the states would have to agree to use their Guard units in this manner.